A Brief History of the Crusades: Islam and Christianity in the Struggle for World Supremacy (Brief Histories) Paperback – 25 Mar 2004
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Islam and Christianity and their ancient struggle for world supremacy
About the Author
Geoffrey Hindley (1935-2014), educated at Kingswood School, Bath and University College Oxford, is a lecturer and writer. He was three times an invited participant at the International Congress on Medieval Studies, Western Michigan University; was visiting associate professor at the University of Florida, Gainesville; and lectured in Europe and America on European culture,
medieval social history and Magna Carta, and the history of music. From 1994 to 2000 he taught English civilization at the University of Le Havre. Right up until his death he was co-president of the Society for the History of Medieval Technology and Science of Oxford and London. His many books include The Shaping of Europe,
England in the Age of Caxton, The Book of Magna Carta, A Brief History of the Crusades and A Brief History of the Anglo-Saxons.
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Top Customer Reviews
The book does indeed pre-suppose some knowledge on the readers' part, but this is easily overcome by following Hindley's superb narrative.
One virtually flies through the centuries of conflict, and the key events are expanded upon.
It really is a very good starting point for the beginner, and will encourage the curios to further reading; Runciman's Magnum Opus on the Crusades or Christopher Tyreman's ambitious effort. However, if you do buy this and enjoy it as much as I have, I suggest The First Crusade by Thomas Asbridge as your next port of call.
Further, I would also encourage the reader not to interpret the Crusades in as contemporary sense as other reviewers may suggest, but `enjoy' the period in isolation.
Thankfully, Hindley also refuses to take the simplistic view of some of his peers that Western success was a foregone conclusion - it wasn't.
Definitely recommended for newcomers to the subject.
Hindley notes that certain conflicts carry an ordinal number to them, even though they do not reflect the actual number of skirmishes and battles. However, he chooses to stick with the conventional numbering, with more descriptive titles for those that are not afforded a number.
What follows is an account of conquest, bloodshed and ideology. As informative as it is with regards to the personalities and the large scale military aims of each side, I could not help but think that there was a lack of critique about the motivations behind the Crusades. There are a few references dotted about, mostly towards the end of the book, but these are few and far between. For example, he states:
"The ideal which had first inspired men to go on armed pilgrimage to reclaim the Holy Land for Christendom had always been a matter of mixed motives,"
"...the wars fought in the name of religion became increasingly embroiled in politics and the rhetoric of crusade became part of the vocabulary of international diplomacy."
Early in the book, Hindley notes that the Crusades were not endorsed by all catholics, with Thomas Aquinas opposing such ventures. This is, I think, quite significant as he was probably the most influential thinker in christianity & catholicism in the millennium between Augustine and Martin Luther. This demonstrates that then to regard this as "christian v muslim" is to oversimplify affairs.Read more ›
I would certainly recommend this book - especially when you consider the price - as it offers a comprehensive overview of one of history's most controversial periods. Not only this, but Hindley's writing compels you to explore in greater detail, and since purchasing this book I have upgraded my own collection of Crusades-related literature to quite a healthy quota!
A definite 5/5 from me.
Good solid book with enough depth and detail to satisfy. More maps would be good though.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Not a very good book for several reasons:
Despite the author's statement that its a "brief" history, he ventures into details wherever he likes without any... Read more
If prepared to work at it you will learn about and understand crusades - not for the faint-heated though ti is dense and needs perseverance at times.Published on 11 Mar. 2014 by Paul Bach
This is a concise easy to follow history of the crusades.I bought it before visiting Turkey and found it very relevant and helpful.Published on 24 Feb. 2013 by Joy Fletcher
All as described, content of book was exactly what I required. Well packaged. Arrived in plenty of time. Read morePublished on 30 Oct. 2011 by Neverstoplearning
Exceptionally well researched book, and well written too. However, this book assumes a lot of knowledge and is not introductory. Read morePublished on 29 April 2007 by Arthur Chitauro